Ya Hala

If you feel Portland's ethnic food scene is lacking, Ya Hala will prove that wrong.  Think classic brunch dishes reinvented with a Lebanese twist.

Fit for adventurous eaters as well as traditionalists, Ya Hala has a little something for everyone - and it's very veggie friendly too.  The restaurant space is quite big, which makes it great for large groups but also perfectly acceptable for intimate meals, as well.  The service is friendly and attentive, especially when the little ones are concerned. During brunch, we tried the...

Traditional Lebanese plate - I love me a nice sharing plate of mezze, which is exactly what this was. Boasting everything from baked gigante beans cooked in Middle Eastern spices to lebneh (Lebanese cream cheese), kishek sfeeha (doughy treats topped with fresh tomatoes, onions and olive oil) and more, the variety was wonderful.  Edie loved munching on everything on this plate, the beans being her favorite.

Moroccan fried chicken - Curious to see what would make this different from your traditional fried chicken, this one included a side of couscous gratin and a fried egg on the side. The chicken was moist on the inside and deliciously crispy on the outside, but I have to say that I enjoyed the couscous the most and so did Edie. Since the portion is very large, it's great for sharing with your little one.

Fresh pita bread - We ordered this for Edie as a starter and it was absolutely delicious and still a little warm. But to our chagrin, she didn't share our opinion and totally refused it. More for us!

Grown-up wins

  • Large space - It's reassuring to know that this isn't one of those hole in the wall restaurants, so there's plenty of room even if you don't think ahead and make a reservation. The one small drawback is that the space is a bit dark, but that's definitely not a deal breaker.
  • Diverse menu - We loved seeing unique menu items such as the lamb rillette pizza, shakshuka (eggs baked in tomato sauce), fried halloumi, the kafta burger and more. This makes me want to come back soon - with lots of friends too so we can try more stuff.
  • Quick service - While the restaurant got busier the longer we stayed, the service was on-point. Our glasses were always full and we even got little refills of certain things such as those heavenly beans.
  • Favorite food - The Lebanese plate was my favorite, as it was not only generous in portion but diverse in foods and flavors. It was also really fun to pick at and offer up to Edie. If you didn't like one thing, there's something else that would surely please.

Kid wins

  • High chairs - I loved the big, roomy tables but the high chairs were also comfy and didn't cramp my style.
  • Free refills - Mmmm the baked gigante beans were my fave and our waitress noticed. So much so that she brought me more without momma even asking.
  • Favorite food - The beans and the couscous, hands down! The cous also had my favorite ingredient on top - cheeeeese!

Ya Hala - 8005 SE Stark Street, Portland OR. 503.256.4484